The Importance of Recognizing and Addressing Job Burnout Among Medical Professionals

Life burnout

Have you needed to take a “mental health day” recently? Several? Whether you called in sick or used one or more of your personal leave days, workplace stress is unfortunately quite common. In the United States, one million employees miss work every day for this very reason. Furthermore, both men and women claim that they have had to take time off because their job significantly impacted their stress levels. This was the case with approximately 66% of the participants within a recent survey.

Physicians within the United States appear to be quite prone to experiencing burnout. A January 2017 Medscape Physician Lifestyle Survey found that 59% of emergency doctors agreed that they felt burned out. This figure demonstrates that they experience the highest burnout rates of all medical professionals, which isn’t surprising given the urgent nature of this department.

The aforementioned survey also found that female physicians rated themselves on the burnout scale at 55%. Male physicians, however, rated themselves at 45%. While there are a large number of factors that can create this level of burnout, working long hours without adequate sleep, breaks, or proper nutrition may contribute to this. Furthermore, given the fast pace of many medical facilities due to life-threatening and other urgent situations, this can contribute to both stress and burnout.

Another recent study showed that medical students experience a higher rate of depression than the general population. This rate of depression was 15% to 30% higher than for other individuals within this country. Given the pressure to succeed as well as the competitive nature of these programs, this is not a surprising finding. Just as with physicians and other medical personnel, students may not receive the sleep or proper nutrition that they need due to long hours of study. Medical students also have lab requirements, and depending on where they are in their education, they may also be participating in hospital or other types of internship programs.

When it comes to experiencing a work-life balance, studies have shown that physicians tend to be twice as likely to be dissatisfied with their’s. Furthermore, a recent survey showed that nearly half, or 45.8% of physicians, have at least one burnout symptom. Current data also shows that there is a 35.2% burnout rate with physicians within the United States. It’s not surprising that one of the repercussions of this burnout is a ten percent to 20% higher incidence of divorce for physicians.

Even though their lifestyles do differ, there are a variety of burnout recovery strategies that may appeal to both medical students and physicians. Since each individual is unique, however, it’s important to be honest about the level of burnout and whether or not there is a simple way to ease this situation. Work-life balance can be challenging due to the demands of medical school, managing a private clinic, or working in a hospital or other type of medical setting, such as an emergency room.

Since people manifest stress in different ways, which includes frequent illness, depression, or angry outbursts, being aware of the ways in which they manifest stress or burnout is essential for these individuals. While a mental health day to catch up on sleep may assist some individuals with lessening stress, others may need to take an anger management class, work with a mental health professional, or locate other types of burnout recovery strategies. When signs of emotional exhaustion as well as physical exhaustion are not addressed, severe burnout may occur.

Burnout recovery strategies may need to be employed on a regular basis in order to avoid and/or minimize the stress associated with work and other obligations. Since most positions within the medical field are considered to be stressful jobs, it’s important to find solutions to address this so that these valuable professionals are able to avoid burnout. Challenging as it may be, creating a work-life balance may be one of the most impactful burnout recovery strategies.

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